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Whenever an area is struck by a massive disaster such as extreme flooding, an earthquake, forest fire or chemical spill, not only people suffer the consequences but also the animal population will be hit severely. A quick search in available literature gives an indication on how veterinary professionals and other emergency responders train and organise themselves to cope with these events in an effort to save as many lives (human beings and animals) as possible.
Linnabary and New1 describe in this paper how from the 1950s the principles of disaster medicine were taught in the US veterinary colleges and to military veterinarians, providing various examples and detailed descriptions for emergency responders. In order to be better prepared, Linnabary and New2 also describe the results of a survey of emergency evacuation of dairy cattle. This survey was designed to determine the farmers’ attitudes regarding evacuation, the availability of equipment and personnel, the estimated numbers of cattle, evacuation time, destination and care of evacuated cattle, and any possible alternative in case cattle could not be moved. The results indicated a lack of preparedness and high economic vulnerability of farmers. In their conclusion the authors pleaded for a timely and detailed analysis of the local situation, combined with preplanning and drill exercises to be well prepared in case of an emergency. In the authors’ opinion, local emergency-planning committees should be strengthened with this particular expertise.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Hunt and others3 investigated the psychological effects of the loss of a pet on survivors of the disaster. Pet loss was strongly associated with psychopathology, and the impact of the loss on post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was mediated by acute stress and dissociative symptoms during the evacuation. This suggests that forced abandonment of a companion animal during an evacuation adds …
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